… the humanities are always in the greatest danger at a time of financial stringency, although this is just the time when their influence is most needed… we are going to need all the faith and courage and nerve we have to defend the value of the study of literature. Dame Helen Gardner In Defence of the Imagination (Oxford, 1982)
St Hilda’s has a long-established commitment to the study of English Language and Literature. We value inclusivity and foster a spirit of intellectual challenge, veracity and solidarity. We provide a level playing field for all our students and promote mutual respect and equality as the appropriate base from which to share and enhance debate. Our undergraduate students are encouraged to read widely, and supported as they further their personal areas of interest and develop their own critical voices. A number of subject-led initiatives help us to realise these objectives – from our online pre-arrival study skills course LevELL-UP through to lively informal social events in term time (such as the ghoulish Halloween Readings), our annual P.D. James Event (subject dinner and speaker), and the Finalists’ Dissertation Day at which final year students share their research findings and enthusiasms with the wider subject community in college.
Our students are often elected to roles on the College JCR Committee, and also have the opportunity to represent their peers on Faculty committees. In recent years, students of English have acted as the College Arts Officer, have been involved in the organisation of College Welfare, and have run other mainstays of undergraduate life at St Hilda’s such as the Feminist Festival, the College Ball and the College Bar. They have also assisted college staff at events on the highly successful annual ‘St Hilda’s Writers’ Day’ at the Oxford Literary Festival. Our students enjoy student journalism, drama and music, both at a college level and in the wider University. Such extracurricular activities can be extremely rewarding, though of course they require good time-management!
Core compulsory papers for the undergraduate B.A. in English Language and Literature are taught in College; thereafter, your choice of option papers and research topics may see you working with Faculty specialists based elsewhere within the collegiate university. There are a number of College subject prizes awarded for examination results, distinguished tutorial work or progress. The College also invites applications for travel grants, and these can greatly assist students in English with archival research for final year dissertations and graduate work. Specific to our subject group is the Rosalind Jane Bairstow Bursary, an annual award that assists one current undergraduate in the English (or a related Joint) School who wishes to embark on a one-year course of further academic study in the year after graduation, wherever in the world their ambitions may best be realised.